A trade school education can provide a fast, affordable path to starting a successful tech career. Intensive programs focused on in-demand technical skills allow trade school graduates to fill roles like software developer, IT specialist, data analyst, and more.
If you’re interested in a quicker, cheaper alternative to a 4-year degree, some of the top trade schools for computer science include General Assembly, Fullstack Academy, Tech Elevator, and Nucamp.
This guide will provide an in-depth look at the benefits of trade school, what to look for in highly-ranked computer science trade school programs, potential careers, and how graduates can get started in competitive tech jobs without a bachelor’s degree.
Benefits of Trade School for Computer Science
One of the major benefits of attending a trade school for computer science is the accelerated pace at which students can complete their program. Unlike traditional four-year degree programs, trade schools often offer intensive, focused training that can be completed in a shorter period of time.
This means that students can enter the workforce and start their careers in the field of computer science more quickly. In fact, some trade schools even offer fast-track programs that allow students to earn their degree in as little as six months.
Trade schools for computer science often provide a more affordable alternative to traditional universities. Tuition fees for trade school programs are generally lower compared to four-year degree programs.
Additionally, trade schools typically have fewer general education requirements, which further reduces the overall cost of education. This makes trade schools a great option for individuals who want to pursue a career in computer science without accumulating a significant amount of student debt.
Trade schools are renowned for their career-focused curriculum. Unlike traditional universities where students have to take a wide range of general education courses, trade schools offer specialized training that is directly applicable to the field of computer science.
Students in trade school programs learn practical skills and gain hands-on experience that is highly valued by employers. This career-focused curriculum prepares students to hit the ground running and excel in their chosen profession.
Flexible learning options
Trade schools often provide flexible learning options to accommodate individuals with different schedules and commitments. Many trade schools offer part-time, evening, or online classes, allowing students to work and study simultaneously.
This flexibility is particularly beneficial for individuals who are already working or have other responsibilities. It provides them with the opportunity to gain the necessary skills and knowledge in computer science without having to put their professional or personal lives on hold.
One of the top-ranked trade schools for computer science is General Assembly. Known for its comprehensive programs and industry-focused curriculum, General Assembly offers a range of courses in web development, data science, and software engineering.
Their bootcamp-style approach provides intensive training in a short period of time, making it an attractive option for individuals looking to quickly gain the skills needed to enter the tech industry.
General Assembly has a strong reputation for producing graduates who are well-prepared for the workforce, with many alumni going on to work at top tech companies.
Another highly regarded trade school for computer science is Fullstack Academy. With a focus on immersive learning and hands-on experience, Fullstack Academy offers programs in web development and cybersecurity.
Their curriculum is designed to keep up with the rapidly evolving tech industry, ensuring that students learn the most up-to-date skills and technologies. Fullstack Academy also prides itself on its strong network of alumni, who often go on to start successful tech companies or secure high-paying jobs in the field.
Tech Elevator is a trade school that specializes in software development. They offer intensive coding bootcamps that cover various programming languages and frameworks. Tech Elevator stands out for its focus on career readiness, providing students with job placement assistance and networking opportunities.
Their curriculum is designed to mimic real-world projects, giving students practical experience that can be applied in the workplace. Tech Elevator has a strong track record of helping graduates secure jobs at leading tech companies.
Nucamp is an affordable option for individuals looking to gain skills in web development. They offer part-time coding bootcamps that can be completed online or in-person. Nucamp’s curriculum is designed to be flexible and accessible, making it a great choice for those who need to balance their education with other commitments.
Despite its affordability, Nucamp provides high-quality instruction and hands-on projects that help students build a strong foundation in web development.
When considering trade schools for computer science, it’s important to research and compare different programs to find the one that best fits your needs and career goals. These top-ranked programs mentioned above are a great starting point and have proven track records of success in preparing students for a career in the tech industry.
Career Paths for Graduates
With the increasing demand for web developers, graduates can find job opportunities in various industries, including technology, advertising, and e-commerce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for web developers was $73,760 in 2020, and the job outlook is projected to grow much faster than average.
Another promising career path for trade school graduates in computer science is becoming a software developer. Software developers are responsible for designing, coding, and testing computer software. They work closely with clients and users to understand their needs and develop software solutions to meet those requirements.
Graduates can specialize in various areas, such as mobile app development, game development, or enterprise software. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for software developers was $110,140 in 2020, and the job outlook is projected to grow much faster than average.
An IT specialist is a career path that graduates of trade schools for computer science can pursue. IT specialists are responsible for managing and maintaining an organization’s computer systems and networks.
They ensure that the technology infrastructure is secure, up-to-date, and running efficiently. Graduates with a specialization in networking or cybersecurity can find job opportunities as network administrators or cybersecurity analysts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $84,810 in 2020, and the job outlook is projected to grow faster than average.
Data analysis is a rapidly growing field, and graduates of trade schools for computer science can pursue a career as a data analyst. Data analysts are responsible for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting large sets of data to help organizations make informed business decisions.
They use statistical techniques and data visualization tools to present their findings. Graduates with strong analytical and problem-solving skills can find job opportunities in various industries, including finance, healthcare, and marketing.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for data analysts was $87,780 in 2020, and the job outlook is projected to grow much faster than average.
UX (User Experience) designers focus on creating intuitive and user-friendly digital experiences. They work closely with web and software developers to ensure that the user interface is visually appealing and easy to navigate.
Graduates with a strong design background and knowledge of human-computer interaction principles can find job opportunities as UX designers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for graphic designers, which includes UX designers, was $56,510 in 2020, and the job outlook is projected to grow at an average rate.
Getting Hired Without a 4-Year Degree
Not everyone wants to spend four years in college pursuing a computer science degree. The good news is that there are alternative paths to a successful career in the field. Trade schools for computer science offer specialized training and education that can help individuals break into the industry without the need for a traditional four-year degree.
Here are some strategies to consider when looking to get hired without a 4-year degree.
One way to enhance your job prospects in the computer science field is by earning relevant certifications. Certifications demonstrate your expertise and dedication to potential employers. Popular certifications in the industry include Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD).
These certifications can provide the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in specific areas of computer science, such as networking, cybersecurity, and software development.
Building a portfolio
While a traditional degree may not be required, employers still want to see tangible evidence of your skills and abilities. Building a portfolio of projects can showcase your expertise and demonstrate your ability to solve real-world problems.
Include a variety of projects that highlight your strengths and showcase your range of skills. Whether it’s developing a mobile app, creating a website, or solving a complex algorithmic problem, a well-curated portfolio can set you apart from other candidates.
Networking can play a crucial role in getting hired without a 4-year degree. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with professionals in the field. Building relationships with individuals already working in computer science can provide valuable insights, job leads, and mentorship opportunities.
Don’t underestimate the power of networking in opening doors and creating opportunities for yourself.
Doing freelance work
Freelancing can be an excellent way to gain practical experience and build your reputation in the industry. Many companies are open to hiring freelancers for short-term projects, allowing you to showcase your skills and prove your abilities.
Freelancing not only provides hands-on experience but also allows you to expand your professional network and potentially secure long-term job opportunities. Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Toptal can connect you with clients looking for computer science professionals.
For those looking to start a well-paying career in technology quickly and affordably, highly-ranked trade school programs like General Assembly and Fullstack Academy provide the essential skills and hands-on training needed to succeed.
Graduates earn certifications, build impressive portfolios, and gain the confidence to pass technical interviews, allowing them to launch into developer, IT, data analyst, and other computer science roles without a 4-year degree.